Notes, Covent Garden
‘Say, how about that coffee?’, says the handsome Yank to his co-worker on the corner of 51st and 6th. She blushes and momentarily wonders whether it’s right to fraternise with a colleague but quickly acquiesces and ends up in love.
Oh the precious coffee date, loaded with so much more meaning and hope than a lary catcall to the pub. But Brits are perhaps not yet convinced of the merits of a boozeless date and so compromise with wonders like Notes. Enter the coffee shop/bar hybrid, a place that is 80% virtuous, with its freshly ground beans, homemade sandwiches, cakes and elderflower pressés, and 20% feisty, with its reasonably priced and delicious wines to take away or drink on the premises. This place is softly industrial and woody, perfect for a late afternoon coffee date that loses its resolve and turns boozy around 6pm. Perch on the high chairs at the front or slouch down at the tables in the back. The brainchild of twentysomething Rob Robinson – who started out in the biz serving coffee from a van in Paris – and Fabio Ferreira, Alan and Marion Goulden, Notes has multiplied into two shops and four carts. Visit the shop at night and the cart the morning after.
Skinny flat white, half-caf, make it a large. And the scrumptious tart, perhaps with the cheese and charcuterie on the side. Plus one of those pastry things; yes, you’re right, the brownie does look good. And wine, you say? Well, two glasses of red if you insist. Better make that a bottle to go, as well.
Masquerade under the notion that this is a coffee between friends; they need not even know it’s a date. This way you’re at ease and can chat through choice topics that demonstrate your intellect, caustic wit and adorable smile. Feel free to mention the hordes of suitors after you, an innocent enough comment in this set-up. Dig down deep and find out about them, whilst coyly blowing the steam off your cappuccino and asking enthusiastically if that really was the way it played out on their trip to the Serengeti. This act will last an hour, 90 minutes tops. Then, as it cools outside and the sun starts to set, suggest a little glass of wine and a bottling of sparkling water to accompany. Drink the two simultaneously and then go for one more round. Exit once the evening has fully arrived, with a light head but a clear conscience. Then walk towards the river and, once you find it, do your worst.
Not a darn thing, it’s simply charming. Perhaps it could push its opening hours to midnight?
1. This is more of a slow set-up.